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Judge Recommends Former ADF Attorney Be Disbarred, Law License Now Inactive

On March 27, a California judge issued a recommendation that former Trump Campaign attorney John Eastman be disbarred.

The State Bar Court of California held hearings on allegations that Eastman’s legal maneuvering to overturn the 2020 election results violated state ethics rules. Eastman has previously been an allied attorney with the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and worked as a faculty member for the group’s Blackstone legal fellowship – a legal training program designed to infuse “Christendomic theology” into contemporary American law.

“Given the serious and extensive nature of Eastman’s unethical actions, the most severe available professional sanction [disbarment] is warranted to protect the public and preserve the public confidence in the legal system,” Judge Yvette Roland’s recommendation held. The recommendation also means that Eastman’s California law license will be “inactive” until the state Supreme Court imposes a final disciplinary order.

In addition to disbarment, Eastman currently faces criminal charges in Georgia for his alleged role bringing together a slate of alternate electors for former President Trump.

In an update to a fundraising website posted the day after the ruling, Eastman repeated claims of “illegality in the [2020] election” and said he plans to appeal the recommendation. In a March 28 interview with Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, on “The Charlie Kirk Show,” Eastman said he does not “show remorse” for the conduct the judge cited in the recommendation.

In December 2022, Eastman testified on behalf of an Alaska state representative and lifetime member of the far-right paramilitary group Oath Keepers David Eastman, no relation, who faced a civil suit seeking to bar him from office because of his participation in events outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan, 6, 2021. David Eastman remained in office but was removed from committee assignments in the state legislature.

John Eastman is a long-time fixture in the anti-LGBTQ movement. He formerly served as Board Chair of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) – a group whose president, Brian Brown, has also led the anti-LGBTQ hate group International Organization for the Family since 2016. It is unclear when Eastman left NOM. According to web archives, a biography page hosted on the group’s website listed Eastman as board chair in March 2023, but the page had been removed by mid-May.

Eastman was also a faculty member for the Blackstone Legal Fellowship for nearly two decades, between at least 2003 and 2018. ADF originally characterized the Blackstone Legal Fellowship as a program to “recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries” and numerous local, state and federal legal offices have been staffed by alumni of the program since it was established in 2000.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was questioned about her lectures to Blackstone fellows during her confirmation hearings in 2020, saying she was “not aware” of ADF’s past efforts to defend sodomy laws.

In addition to lecturing for the Blackstone program in 2018, Eastman was listed as an ADF-allied attorney on the group’s website as late as 2018.

Photo illustration by SPLC

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